Perhaps the only good news related to teacher pay in North Carolina in recent weeks has been Gov. Pat McCrory’s reaction to all the bad news. The status quo is unacceptable, he says.
Well, at least, that’s a start.
We’ve known for some time that North Carolina’s teacher pay is 46th in the country, but word came last week that, adjusted for inflation, the state’s record of compensating educators is worse than that – far worse. The median change in teacher pay across all states between 2000 and 2012 dropped 1 percent, when adjusted for inflation. But in North Carolina, average teacher pay fell 16 percent when adjusted for inflation.
The average salary for North Carolina teachers is $9,500 below the national average. The only states we lead are New Mexico, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Mississippi and South Dakota.
McCrory told the editorial board for the Charlotte Observer that raising teacher pay will be a priority in the new year.
Let’s hope so. Low salaries more than likely mean we’re losing our best and brightest teachers to other states that are willing to invest more in education. Companies considering relocating take note of those characteristics, also. It’s hard to imagine a more important resource to a company than a well educated work force.
McCrory, who is a Republican, and the GOP-led N.C. General Assembly certainly have the political clout to make education a priority. Whether they have the political will is a different issue.
McCrory’s verbal commitment is an encouraging sign. Here’s hoping lawmakers follow suit.